As mentioned in the review of this series’ debut issue, leaning into homage and tropes can be a great, so long as it’s done to tell an interesting story. Fortunately, Astro Hustle #2 does not disappoint on that front.
The book picks up right where issue one left off. Chen and the pirates make a mad dash to escape the authorities and save their skins. In the process, we learn a little more about Chen, and about the madcap world he inhabits.
The issue ends with a bonus story, Halloween Eagle #0, introducing a new concept from Jai Nitz and Luke Parker. As Nitz explains, “If Astro Hustle is my love letter to the Disco sci-fi of the ‘70s, Halloween Eagle is my love letter to Hellboy and Dr. Strange.”
The writing in Astro Hustle #2 is fast-paced and full of action. A good portion of the issue features Chen’s internal monologue, providing context and exposition for the story that we didn’t have in issue one. However, it’s presented concurrent with air chases and plenty of other action, which prevents readers from being turned off by an info-dump.
This issue relies heavily on pirate tropes, but plays with them to present a unique twist on the old clichés. The book enthusiastically embraces the zaniness of pirate planets and ships crewed by anthropomorphic animals. That’s proving to be the series’ strongest point: taking convention and playing with it to provide something immediately familiar, but still totally unique.
Any complaints about Astro Hustle #2 are largely nitpicks. For example, Chen’s brother—the president of the galaxy—comes up again in this issue. However, it’s still not clear how that point’s relevance will take shape later on. We don’t know their dynamics, so it’s unclear how much that matters at this point.
The artwork is again excellent in in Astro Hustle #2. The work is detailed and vibrant, brimming with energy on every page. It’s all suitably weird and brilliantly inventive from a design standpoint, drawing on a thousand different influences and references.
The colors add a vital dimension to the work, bringing everything to life. Neon tones mesh with darker, rich colors, driving home the “disco sci-fi” aesthetic.
Astro Hustle #2 is a great follow-up to an excellent debut. This is definitely a series worth reading.